It should’ve been my mother’s. Traditionally, that’s how these kinds of stories go. But my earliest memory of a piece of jewelry that took my breath away actually belonged to my aunt. They were Swarovski crystal drop earrings, cornflower blue and the shape of an inverted pear. They were small, and dainty, but—and this was the important part—housed inside each earring, there was a little holographic image of an angel. If you tipped this way or that, and if the light hit it just right, it looked like a fantastic illusion my then-tiny brain couldn’t comprehend.
I was endlessly fascinated with it. In fact, I must have blabbered about it too much, because on my 9th birthday, my aunt pulled out a sapphire-blue velvet box from her behind her back like a magician with unpracticed showmanship. She popped it open, and there it was. My first pair of, well—something extremely special. It wasn’t magic, but it sure felt that way. (I was rarely allowed to wear it, of course, and when I did, it was only under the close supervision of at least two family members).
Close-to 17 years later, I think of those earrings when I arrive at an open house and cocktail party thrown by Swarovski. The occasion? Previewing the luxury crystal maker’s fall/winter 2020/21 innovations and trends with the theme: Love All. The location? The iconic Sheats Goldstein residence—a cave-like hillside home featured in a slew of movies from Charlie’s Angels to The Big Lebowski, a place that embodies LA glamor to its sparkly core.
The atmosphere is fitting, given that this is my first night out in town since my three-week-long European escape. After giving my friend Kristin Vartan a proper I-haven’t-seen-you-in-so-long hug, we make a beeline toward the driveway of the house, where four stations titled Then & Now, Modern & Romantic, Extreme & Casual, and Wild & Chic are set up to represent the brand’s upcoming trends.
But aside from showcasing the new collection’s aesthetics, the four moods also strive to establish an emotional connection with the wearer, playing into the theme of love. We marvel at the bedazzled tiaras, pulled from the Swarovski archives, and I immediately get a sense of childlike hunger for whimsy and unfettered fantasy. If Swarovski is going after feelings, I think, then it definitely succeeded in evoking them in me.
As we thumb through Swarovski’s Book of Dreams Volume III (an editorial project produced in collaboration with Garage Magazine), we hear muffled music, spilling from inside Club James—the property’s own nightclub, aka the site of many weekly, if not daily, celebrity shindigs. (Just so you understand the grandeur of the place, it’s worth noting that the property also features a tropical garden, tennis court, entertainment center and even a James Turrell skyspace). Kristin and I glance over to the club, then nod to one another, silently agreeing that it’s time to move the party to the club.
It seems like Club James is where LA’s finest fashion glitterati have gathered for the night. Guests toting Shrimps’ beaded pearl bags and donning chic, magazine-editor-esque outfits are either lazily moving the music, or swarming around the bar. The party drink, for the record, is Veuve Clicquot.
“Oh my God,” I whisper-shout over the music, pointing at floor-to-ceiling glass windows that pan across the entire space. “That view!” I’m not quite sure what’s shining brighter—Swarovski’s installations inside or the city outside. The answer isn’t, erm, crystal-clear, but there’s one thing I do know. In this lustrous setting, in the midst of all the twinkling lights and flowing bubbly, I’m reminded of Swarovski’s cachet and importance. And of course, those blue earrings.